For some time now, I’ve been looking back, wistfully, to the days when motherhood felt magical.
Not that it was ever all pixie dust and unicorns. I don’t have to tell you that it’s really never been that way. And my memory has a way of tinting every moment with just the right shade of sepia and the right hue of rose to make even the toughest times glow with a beauty to which the present day will never compare. That’s human nature, I think, a self-preservation mechanism that helps us continue to put feet to the ground and eyes to the sky. It’s oh so crucial for parenthood.
But when I wipe away the filters of memory, I’m still left looking back on days when the balanced tilted noticeably more towards magic and away from reality. The days when I had just one child, only one little person needing and wanting and demanding all of my attention. The days when I left my house to go to work everyday and came home to be a mother everyday and I could keep a nice, dark, thick line between the two. The days when motherhood was new and milestones were new and I had the time in my life and space in my heart and attention in my mind to notice the smallest details of those milestones, track the micro-movements towards them, and celebrate each individual accomplishment, no matter how small. And then the days when mothering siblings was new and the world burst with possibilities for a budding new relationship and all of the things our little family of four, finally complete, would be. The days before school and forms and policies and schedules (and friends, and playmates, and birthday parties, and after school activities (and on, and on, and on)) crowded the margins of our world so fully that they eventually spilled over and swarmed the whole page with responsibilities and obligations. The days before we needed two sets of child care. Before we doubled the numbers of doctors and appointments. Before everything just simply grew and it didn’t just double, it quadrupled.
Those days, when motherhood felt magical, were simpler. They were easier. And even when I wipe away the sepia, I forget that they didn’t feel so at the time. That, in those days, all of the challenges of new parenthood were as new as our school and schedules feel today. That, even in those days, there were decisions to make that I felt completely unprepared to face and new worlds to plan for that were completely ambiguous.
Yes, today is more complicated than those days I’ve been aching for. But those days were not the simple breezes I like to think they were.
Still, I’ve been letting these feelings and this ache for a simpler time ground me on a path that feels dull and unavoidably burrowed in reality. Motherhood has not felt magical for quite some time. It has felt like to-do lists and disciplining, yelling and corralling, making and cleaning and fixing and starting every day all over again in all of the senses of that phrase that are drudgery and none of the ones that are renewal. For some time now, I’ve been feeling that I’ve lost my motherhood spark. I’ve lost my zeal for this life that I really do love when I can look past the complexities that would be there regardless, just in different form.
At first, I just gave into the situation. I simply accepted that this time is challenging and there is nothing to do but live through it and wait for the other side. I had faith that there is another side and enough time and movement will get us there, to where the things that are challenging today slow down and subside or become second nature and I can once again forget about big decisions and all the what-to-dos and what-is-bests and focus simply on laying in the grass with my babies beside me or curling up on the couch for an hour of stories and pictures. I’ve been waiting for the day to come when I have nothing more to do than to breathe in my children and their pixie dust and wrap myself in their magic.
Of course, that is the unicorn. The mythical day when everything is sorted and the time is there and readily available for the taking, rather than demanding to be a product of the making. That day does not exist in my future. There will always be a decision to make, a plan to formulate. To live with intent as I have vowed to do this year (and every year to come), I’ll have to think and choose and do.
So what about the magic? Is it lost forever, to be packed away with the the high chair that we just booted from the kitchen and the crib that will soon follow?
I don’t think so. Or, at least, I’m not ready to believe so. Not just yet. For now, I like to think about that motherhood magic as I do the receiving blankets that are still scattered around our house. We’ve kept most of our receiving blankets from our two sets of newborn days. In the years since we’ve swaddled a human, they’ve served a blankets for babies and bears and monkeys, not to mention capes and sarongs and shrouds to conspicuously hide toddlers. I pick them all up every so often, wash them, and believe that I’ve packed them all away in a dress up box somewhere. But then one turns up. At the bottom of the hamper. Snuggled under the couch. It just appears out of nowhere, it seems, and before I know it I’m turning it over in my hands and remembering when I could tuck tiny feet inside it, as those feet thunder through the house. And then one of my children comes along and snatches it from my hands and suddenly, it’s found itself inside playtime once again.
For now, I’m deciding to believe that the magic is still there. I just have to look for it and hold onto it when it happens along.
It’s one-word prompt day. I chose ‘magic’